The level of argument from secularists denouncing the niqab has reached a new low recently. Here, for example, is Joan Smith writing in the Independent on Sunday:
I’m aghast at the prospect of being treated by a health professional in a niqab. Patients often have to discuss intimate matters with GPs and nurse-practitioners, from sexual health to domestic violence. If someone doesn’t trust me enough to let me see her face, I’m hardly going to feel comfortable about her carrying out an intimate procedure such as a cervical smear. Nor is it easy to imagine a man discussing the symptoms of prostate cancer with a health professional whose idea of “modesty” doesn’t allow her to expose her nose.
Quite why the wearing of a veil should render a health professional incapable of discussing problems you might have with your prostate gland is unclear. Militant atheists like Smith, who claim to oppose religious belief on the basis that it is irrational, are evidently not immune to outbursts of extreme irrationality themselves.
Smith also informs us that “the UK is a secular society in all but name”. Really? The same UK where the head of state is also the supreme governor of the Church of England, and where 26 Anglican bishops have an automatic place in the second chamber of parliament?
But this is par for the course with a certain sort of “secularist”. The legitimate secularist aim of separating church and state in now ignored in favour of expressing antagonism towards members of a minority faith community who are already the victims of racist hostility.